Announcing I Heart Art 2018

Narromine has attracted some big hitters in the art scene to exhibit in its third I Heart Art Show, from 23-24 March 2018 at Soul Food Design Depot and Gallery. 

Internationally renowned artists such as David Bromley will feature, along with some of the best local and regional artists, sculptors and photographers. Works from local artists Susie Rae, Nikki McCutcheon and Vicki Gainsford will sit alongside those from the some of the best around NSW including award winning Lara Scolari, Catherine Stewart, Jacinta Haycock and Kyah Wilson. 

The show aims to bring top quality art to the small, culture-loving community and to raise money for local school St Augustine’s Primary. 

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Holly Davies, part of the event team, says that the exhibition is fast becoming a firm fixture on the regional art scene. 

'The first event was difficult to attract artists to exhibit their works at a brand new show in a small town but the event’s reputation has grown exponentially, with this year featuring our top 20 artists from our previous events, plus an additional five. Notable new artists include Mudgee-based illustrator Warwick Behrens and painter Charles Smith. 

The town has embraced the show as well, with hundreds of people attending to see some fantastic artwork and many digging deep into their pockets to make sure that some of the fine works find a new home in Narromine.' 

The event will be held over two days, featuring a gala night and auction on Friday 23 March, where people will have the first opportunity to purchase their pick of the works on offer. 

On Saturday 24 March the exhibition will be open from 10am–2pm for art lovers from across the region to take in some of the top quality works on display. The day will also feature activities for budding young artists. 

A children’s art competition is running in conjunction with the exhibition on the theme Creativity Takes Courage. Children from preschool to Year 12 can share in cash and prizes by submitting their paintings, drawings, photography or sculpture works to St Augustine’s School, Narromine by Wednesday 21 March. Winners will be announced on Saturday 24 March. 

To purchase tickets for the gala evening click here


CETA Lab 2: meet the mentor (part two)

Part two of our interview with the creative technologist Annie McKinnon sees her talk about the CETA Ukerbarley project and her response to the Ukerbarley environment. If you haven't read part one yet – about art and technology and mentorship – you can find it here

On her first visit to Ukerbarley:
It was totally calming – I went in putting a lot of pressure on myself about the project and feeling anxiety around how we might look at a place as rich and vast as Ukerbarley. I was aware of the rare, vibrant and thriving ecologies within this larger landscape.

I was sitting in the backseat of the ute. Jill and Jeremy – the National Parks and Wildlife Service rangers – were driving us through and I was just sitting there and I just felt so calm. I was looking at this place and thought wow, it’s so beautiful. It was like a blanket sitting on top of you and I immediately felt calm. That was my first experience of Ukerbareley.

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On Ukerbarley:
It makes me feel amazed. I’m constantly in awe of the colours – wherever you drive or walk in that environment there’s something new to look at; it’s full of different textures. Growing up in Coonabarabran – my dad works for the National Parks – so I’ve been to the Warrumbungles hunderds of times and you see such beautiful ecologies and textures.

On the first Ukerbarley visit we saw an emu with six chicks running around and rare rock-tailed wallabies just hopping around and they had vibrant yellow tails. It just makes it feel very precious; there’s something really powerful about the place, like it has so much to give and there’s so much there to explore.

What stands out for me the most is just how welcoming the landscape feels – it feels like a massive mouth and you’re driving into it and the trees come around you like a big hug. You look up into them – one morning we stopped there and the birds were all singing and I’ve never heard that many birds at once singing. We got the recorder out and we caught all of that. There aren’t that many words for how that feels, being completely immersed in nature. I came straight from the city and you feel like you’ve been taken into another world but in another way you feel connected to who you are and what you’re doing; your role on the planet, specifically in this place.

It’s a very generous place. I feel when I’m at Ukerbarley that I have a huge responsibility – that landscape and that environment has been able to communicate that to me or awaken that in me. I have a responsibility to give back in some way or to listen and to understand what I can of this place. It does feel like it wants to give and that it’s very, very much alive – it feels quite magical and surreal.

What excites me about this project is that Paris is wanting to push boundaries and challenge ideas and I’m getting to feed these super-exciting ideas back and forth with her – being at Ukerbarley takes you out of the riff-raff of the everyday. I guess what excites me about it is how large the project can be but also how centred the project is and how we can actually make quite a big statement together, or I can be part of Paris’ process in making an artwork that can inform a connection to place and a practice of connecting to place that may not have been documented in such a way through art and community; engaging with interactive technologies: it’s the bringing together of all of those things that excites me the most.

We’re right in the middle of it right now and I’m full of thoughts and ideas around it and I’m just so excited to see what becomes of it and how it plays out in the future. I hope that it keeps growing – it’s an incredibly exciting time. 


Country Arts Support Program: CASP recipients announced!

Minister for the Arts Don Harwin has announced that regional and rural arts organisations from around NSW are to benefit from nearly $250,000 in small-grant funding.

The Country Arts Support Program (CASP) will fund 76 organisations to support community arts and cultural development across NSW and there are a number of exciting projects coming up in our region. Congratulations to the following organisations and look out for these projects coming to a town near you in 2018:

Creatives Collective: Develop, Support, Display - Artists with Disability Coonabarabran
(Part 1)
Creatives Collective will create a 12-month project to develop local artists with disability through a series of workshops with professional artists with disability. The project will culminate in an exhibition exploring what it is to create art with disability. 

Kandos Museum Inc: Creative Fundraising Practical Workshop Series at Kandos Museum ($3,000) 
Kandos Museum will host two workshops to teach skills in designing and hand-printing souvenir tea towels and tote bags. The workshops will focus on building capacity for community groups, with participants learning how to produce authentic, local artwork as a sustainable means of funding and promoting their group. 

Moorambilla Voices Ltd: Yabang Taiko (taiko path) ($2,745)
Moorambilla Voices Ltd and Taikoz will join forces to bring Japanese percussion ‘taiko’ to rural remote Baradine, establishing a group of young adults that will undertake an intense taiko workshop to gain the appreciation in the art form and strengthen their performance. 

Narromine Shire Council: Trangie Water Tower Art ($2,594)
The Trangie Action Group will identify suitable buildings in the area and work with a selected artist to install a series of murals across the town.

Nyngan Arts Council: Our Place Our Spaces ($5,000)
Our Places, Our Spaces - an exhibition of new work created by two Nyngan artists, will explore the concept of places and spaces within the Bogan Shire. This exhibition will be curatorially supported by Western Plains Cultural Centre and exhibited at the Nyngan Fire Station Arts Centre and WPCC. 

Western Plains Cultural Centre - Our Stories: Cultural Walking Tours of Dubbo ($1,700)
Using the development of a walking tour of the public art of central Dubbo as a foundation of this project, digital media artist Kim V. Goldsmith will deliver two two-part community workshops in June/July 2018 to encourage individuals and community groups of the region to tell their stories as tours. 

For the full list of CASP recipients visit the Regional Arts NSW website.

 Image: 2017 CASP project, the Mudgee Zine-Makers (credit: Amber Hooper)

Image: 2017 CASP project, the Mudgee Zine-Makers (credit: Amber Hooper)

CETA Lab 2: meet the mentor (part one)

Annie McKinnon is a creative technologist and sound artist, currently based in Sydney. Annie grew up in Coonabarabran and moved to Sydney in 2010 to study a Bachelor of Sound and Music Design at UTS. After she completed her studies she started as a research assistant in the Interaction Studio and as part of that team became much more immersed in interaction design and creative technologies.

Annie has come on board for Lab 2 of CETA: Ukerbarley and after an intensive and invigorating stint working on the project, she shares her thoughts with us in the first of a two-part interview.

On working as a creative technologist:
I work with electronics, sound and software to create artworks or products. I’ve worked in lots of different industries with many collaborators. CETA is so different to the project that I was working on twelve months ago – to design an exhibition that would tour for three years – so my project briefs are always changing. I’ve got a bit of a mish-mash of skills so I get to work on quite varied things; really I’m a bit of a ‘jack of all trades’ – sometimes that’s hard and sometimes that's good. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster. You don’t always know when your next job will be but it’s exciting to be an artist in this space – it’s always changing and evolving, and I’ve always got new tools to work with, which I really love. 


On technology and art:
I don’t think that tech and art necessarily have to work together. I think it’s important that each of those things separately are always commenting on one another—as an artist you can use technology as a tool just like a painter uses a paintbrush. As a technologist, being aware of art and the value of art and how that can inform your practice is important as well… I do think that our current society is very dismissive of artists and art and the value that it brings, which is to our detriment because a lot of the time art is able to communicate things that we don’t yet have a language for or capacity to explain.

Technology is something that is ever-changing and rapidly morphing our world into something new – it’s uncharted territory – and using art and tech, those two things working in symbiosis will bring an understanding that will be much richer than the two being totally singular. There’s a cross-pollination and from that you get some really exciting things.

On the mentor role in CETA:
My role in CETA is as a mentor to Paris Norton but I see Paris much more as a collaborator and a friend—we get along really well and our families are both from Coonabarabran. It was probably ten years ago when I saw Paris at a friend’s birthday party and we started talking – it was pretty late at night – and we both were really keen even at that time to talk about ideas.
I do remember saying that it would be really cool to work together one day so it’s really great to finally – ten years later – have that opportunity. I’m really excited and grateful that Paris and Orana Arts contacted me to be a part of this project because I think it’s really important and exciting.


Stay tuned for part two of our interview with Annie McKinnon, when she tells us about her impressions of Ukerbarley and the CETA project. 

Regional Writing: The Point Blank Writer's Group

In 2012 the Gilgandra Shire Library hosted a writing workshop and was delighted by the enthusiasm – another workshop soon after yielded the same strong turn-out and an enthusiasm for regular writing meet-ups. The Point Blank Writers’ Group was established and the group has been sharing stories ever since.

As a response to the interest in the Gilgandra community, the writing collective began as a Gilgandra Library program. Library Manager Liz McCutcheon says:

The library is the meeting place; library staff plan and promote the group, with Point Blank members providing the creativity and running the meetings. Point Blank is open to everyone and always welcomes new members. It has been an example of the way in which public libraries everywhere are responding to community need as places of equity and inclusion, and when they partner with community members to provide new opportunities for creativity and community development, they are a powerful resource. In this case, Point Blank Writer’s Group members and the library have partnered to develop a unique program that has enriched the lives of its members through the opportunity to learn new skills, make new friends and create new work.
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The name Point Blank Writers’ Group comes from a story by founding member Janet Cheal:

As a child I had noticed that often when the newsreader spoke about the shooting that it happened at point blank range. I’d heard of Point Cook and Point Piper so I asked Dad           
‘Why on earth do people even GO there?’   
‘Where?’ he asked.
‘Point Blank!’ I said. ‘There’s always someone getting shot there!’
Dad roared with laughter and then explained what it really meant – I was only about eight years old.
More than sixty years later, at the first meeting of our Gilgandra Writer’s Group we were throwing around ideas for a name. Somehow the link between a blank page confronting a writer, meanings and misunderstandings of words, as well as our target of writing stories to share, seemed to coalesce as I shared my childhood story of a foolish misunderstanding with my ‘wordsmith’ friends.
And that is how we came to call ourselves the Point Blank Writer’s Group.

The group has its members lead workshops and as such the topis have been varied: writing for advertising and press releases, editing, submitting work for publication, various kinds of poetry, the elements of style, comedy writing and more. In 2016 the collective was ready for a new challenge, and at the suggestion of local artist Judy Shaloub, set about creating illustrations to accompany stories. This series of illustrated stories resulted in an exhibition at the Gilgandra Art Gallery and the group’s first anthology.

The Point Blank Writer’s Group has been inspired by two resources: Round Table Writing: a workbook for writers groups, edited by Erin Heffernan; and Round Table Magic: keeping the magic in your writing group, compiled by The Pencil Orchids Creative Writing Group et al.

Point Blank Writer’s Group welcomes questions and engagement from writers and readers – contact Liz McCutcheon at the Gilgandra Shire Library:

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CETA Lab 1

The CETA (Contemporary Environment Technology Arts) project is running full steam ahead in Coonabarabran. The final stage of Lab 1 was completed last week through community consultation sessions, after the initial mapping of the Ukerbarley property by artists Paris Norton, Annie McKinnon and Dylan Goolagong, with the support of National Parks and Wildlife Services rangers.

The first stage of CETA – with a planned roll-out across the region – is Ukerbarley. Ukerbarley is a property that until recently hasn’t been accessible to Aboriginal people or the broader community. Since the 1920s it has been a private property and is now in the care of National Parks and Wildlife Services, acting caretakers for the traditional owners of the land.

Lead artist Paris Norton – a Gamilaroi woman raised in Coonabarabran – has a reverence for the space. She says ‘The environment is really striking. It’s been untouched for so long. What’s there has always been – it’s uncleared and the animals are unafraid, undisturbed and full of curiosity. The energy of the place is really special.’

The property contains many Aboriginal sites, the meaning of which hasn’t yet been fully explored. Looking at how technology and arts could help a community – to access and map a space in different ways and connect it back to culture – is what inspired the project.

CETA is a chance to reclaim the space culturally. It has become the community’s property through the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which identifies Ukerbarley as an Aboriginal area and so ‘a project like this is an opportunity for community to take back the narrative,’ says Norton.

The community consultation process has revealed a wealth of ideas of how to map and share this narrative, with technological elements allowing an access to Ukerbarley not otherwise possible for some community Elders. These ideas will be developed through Lab 2, which will build on cultural and community engagement and present documentation to the community by the end of the year.


Mentorship in the Left Field Collective

Before the Faith exhibition opened, we asked artists Jason Wing and Paris Norton about being a mentor and emerging artist in the Left Field Collective. Their responses show just how far this project has come – and how the process of mentorship is not just a one-way street:

Jason Wing: I’ve been lucky enough to be one of the mentors from the beginning… that’s four years of development. There have been so many successes: regional gallery shows, finalists in art prizes, travel, it’s pretty amazing. I’m thrilled with the quality [of the Faith exhibition] and I challenge anyone to come in, not read the names and pick mentor and mentee… I don’t think they could do it and that’s a great success I feel.

Paris Norton: As an Aboriginal emerging artist as part of Left Field it’s been really a big honour for me to exhibit alongside the mentors and show the progress that we’ve made as a group… to the point where now I feel comfortable exhibiting alongside them. If you had asked me four years ago to do it I never would have.

Jason Wing: The boundary between mentor and mentee is more flat than that – we’re actually learning from each other and that’s actually just our way. Culturally that’s all we do, we share – everything we know we give for the collective benefit.

The Left Field Collective is currently exhibiting the Faith exhibition at Casula Powerhouse Art Centre, on until Sunday 19 November. 


EOI: Live Music Event Curator

Mid-Western Regional Council is calling for expressions of interest to engage a Curator on a contract basis to assist Council with programming and delivery of a live music event to be held in the Mudgee CBD in March 2018. The successful applicant will ideally have knowledge and experience in the live music scene in the Mid-Western Region and/or experience in curation in other fields.

Candidates are asked to submit a general statement regarding their knowledge and experience in the live music scene and/or curation experience (no more than 500 words) along with a CV (up to 2 pages). The fee structure and budget is dependant on skills and experience.

Applicants are encouraged to contact Events Coordinator, Alayna Gleeson on 6378 2850 or to discuss their expression of interest prior to submitting. Expression of interests close 30 November.

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CETA on the move

Paris Norton, lead artist on the CETA project, reflects on her recent visit to Goulburn, where she presented the possibilities of bringing arts, culture and technology together.

We were thrilled to receive an invitation from Southern Tablelands Arts to talk about our latest program, CETA – contemporary environment technology and arts – especially with a group of people who are inspired by the possibilities of what these tools can bring to the art world.

The road from Dubbo to Goulburn is one of many shapes and textures. From dense bushland to canola covered hills to rolling mountains that shelter the valleys from the cold winds of the south, it provides just the right recipe for reflection and creative thinking – which is what’s needed a few hours before a presentation, especially one fusing place, culture and technology arts.

A room full of people from the Southern Tablelands science hub network community – including the Mayor and new Goulburn Gallery manager – joined us for the evening. Our presentation explained our goals and vision for the CETA project and what that means to us, not only as Orana Arts but as community members.

When it came time to demonstrate the technology that we had brought along, it was then that you saw the full effect of what technology and art can do across generations. I was delighted to see a young boy interact with robots, seeing the potential in their abilities and putting them to the test, an elderly gentleman learning about a drone and watching his eyes tick over as he contemplated its uses. It was humbling to see the group as a whole with big smiles, as interesting and creative conversations filled the room.

I was honored to receive such warm and passionate feedback and couldn’t help my mind running off with the possibilities of what a program like CETA could do for their communities as I later drifted off to sleep.  

The next morning, we were scheduled to present CETA at a local high school; a practical and fun session with our various technologies.

Almost 40 children bustled into the room with curious faces so we wasted no time, jumping into practical play after a brief introduction. The children were broken into groups and robots were divided between them. They were to experiment with the robots and reflect on what their use could be. The energy in the room immediately went from 50% to 110% – with laughter, teamwork and excitement reverberating around the room and corridor outside.

The group had many exciting ideas for these robots; from turning them into futuristic cars that take tourists around town, to outer space and mini cave explorers. It was clear that technology has its place amongst this generation and that in the hands of these young people really anything was possible.

A positive creative session flows into positive social benefits. Children who usually found large group sessions confronting and unappealing were interacting with the technology with enthusiasm and confidence. The class came together to create a large-scale track made from their initial experimental drawings and students took turns in navigating the robots through this maze.

High excitement levels only increased with the next activity: it was time to fly the drone. The children were given a demonstration of how the drone worked and then as a group made shapes with their bodies that would be recorded from above.

By the end of this session we were left with a sense of hope for what these participants could grow to do with these technologies and how it could influence art, lifestyle and culture. This experience cemented the importance of CETA in our communities and inspired us for our journey ahead.

Thank you so much for the opportunity, Southern Tablelands Arts!

If you are interested in more information on the CETA program, or in arranging a talk or workshop for your area, please contact us via

Orana Artist: Jayden Muir

Jayden Muir is an emerging artist currently based in Sydney, but with roots firmly in the Mudgee region. She is balancing her professional training with auditions and workshops whilst also writing and creating her own work. She has just finished the first season run of her own show (All Stations To Social Disconnection) as part of the Sydney Fringe Festival. She is currently in rehearsal for a production to be performed this month as part of her graduating showcase. We caught up with Jayden between rehearsals to find out how her Fringe show went, what she learnt, and if she really does believe that other young regional creatives should apply for a Create NSW Young Regional Artist Scholarship (hint: YES).

Firstly, have you always had an interest in theatre? When did you start performing and creating your own shows? How did your play All Stations to Disconnection come about?

I really only started getting interested in acting and theatre when I was about 16. I decided to take up HSC drama when I was in high school as I was very interested in the design elements of theatre and originally had a passion for costume design. I very quickly fell in love with acting and performing though and funnily enough decided to choose acting as my drama major instead of design. I started getting involved with local community art groups and performing in shows.
In 2015 I decided to audition for acting school and was successful in gaining a place at Sydney Theatre School (STS). From here I started training full time in acting and along the way started gaining more and more skills and knowledge about the craft of performing and theatre making and soon started to understand the importance of making work and putting yourself out there in a very competitive industry! Last year I had the opportunity to travel to Scotland to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and it was such an eye-opener seeing how many people are creating work and putting on shows.
Coming back from that I was inspired to create my own show and Fringe is such a great way to get your show on. All Stations to Social Disconnection came to me one day when I was on the train. I am a bit of a people watcher and I would notice how different people would interact on the train and how being compressed in such a small social setting made people automatically divert to technology as an escape. From here I started observing more and more what people did and eventually wrote All Stations To Social Disconnection.

All Stations to Social Disconnection recently had a successful run as part of the Sydney Fringe. Can you tell us about the experience of putting this show together; the challenges, the joys, the things you’ve learnt? 

It has been such an amazing and very challenging experience. Writing, producing and acting in a show whilst balancing my final year of acting school definitely came with a lot of sleepless nights and I can't lie and say there weren't times when it felt like it was all too much. However, the pay-off and excitement of it all was worth it. Early stages of creating this show started with finding amazing artists and theatre makers who were passionate about creating work and bringing this piece to life. I was blessed with an awesome cast and amazing director and we did a lot of script development to adjust to each specific actor and a lot of improvisation around the main ideas in the script in order to bring it to life. I learnt it's important to find other artists with the same passion as you, otherwise the work dies. I met so many amazing people during Fringe and have made some great contacts. I learnt how important networking is in this industry. I'm also so amazed by the amount of support that is out there for young artists like myself. 

With taking on multiple roles I also learnt to stay extremely organised! and quickly leant I have a slight coffee addiction. Caffeine played a big part in those days in which I would have to balance starting school at 8.30am then having to head straight to rehearsal after school at 6pm and then keep going until 9.30 at night. Those days were definitely the most taxing! In the end it was all worth it. Im so grateful for how many people came and saw this show. With close to a full house nearly every night I am more then ecstatic about the success of my first show.

As a recipient of Create NSW’s Young Regional Artist Scholarship you were able to take up a mentorship opportunity. How have you changed over this process? 

I can't even begin to say how grateful I am for this scholarship! I was able to get the best resources to create my own work, something which is just so important as an actor. It's opportunities like this that support young developing artists like myself. I was able to take up a mentorship with actor and writer Alan Flower. From day one Alan took me step by step through the process of creating my own work. From early meetings about script development all the way through to closing night, I was able to learn the ins and outs of creating work and getting it off the page. It was so great having a professional to guide me along a process which was quite daunting. I definitely feel that I have come a long way and am confident in being able to create more work. 

Would you recommend that other young regional creatives apply for the scholarship? 

Yes, yes and yes! I am so honoured to have received this scholarship. There are so many oppounities available with this funding. I decided to pursue creating my own work, which not only meant I was able to fund my work, but also mentored through the process as well as attend producer workshops. However, it can be used for nearly anything to help you boost your developing career. I am very proud to come from a regional area and I think it's important that we continue to support young artists from regional areas. While I live in Sydney at the moment for studies, the country will always be my home – plus I have some exciting plans on the horizon for my region which wouldn't be possible without with scholarship! Through this scholarship I will also be attending a two-day professional development program in Sydney where I will attend workshops and network with professionals in my field. I couldn't recommend applying for this scholarship enough!

And what advice would you give them about the seemingly daunting application process?

Leave yourself plenty of time to get it done! It took me months to finish my application. Taking it easy will help you manage and will make it seem less scary. It's a big task applying for a grant and it requires a lot of extra material and coordinating with other people. However, Create NSW were so supportive and were always happy to answer any questions I had. My number one advice would be to just really take it slow, don't rush the process at all and just go for it! If you feel confident and passionate about your art there's no reason why you shouldn't apply. It's not as scary as it seems once you get started.

What’s next for Jayden Muir – will we be seeing All Stations to Social Disconnection or another production in the Orana region soon? 

I am super excited to be running a workshop series in the Orana region this December. I will be graduating from my three year training at STS in November and then my focus will be on this tour. The money made through ticket sales from Fringe will go to funding workshops around the region. I'm so grateful for the arts in my region and I can't wait to come back. Workshops topics will include physical theatre, theatre-making and devising workshops, using excerpts from the All Stations script and also a Q+A on producing work for festivals such as Fringe. I'm very keen to pass on the knowledge I gained during this process to youth theatres in the area. There are lots of details to finalise before I head back but I will be sure to keep everyone updated!